The residents of Sand Canyon have a lot in common, though they come from a wide variety of backgrounds. And no one embodies that notion more than new resident Ron Nekoukar, DVM.
Animal lover? Check. Likes rural living? Check.
And like so many residents of the canyon, Dr. Nekoukar, his wife, Lilie, and their son and daughter, Eithan and Leah, have already started adding furry family members to their numbers. They have two dogs, two cats, two pygmy goats and two Russian tortoises. But they aren’t done yet. There are more to come, say the new residents, possibly starting with chickens.
The owner of Sierra Veterinary Clinic on Sierra Highway for the last five years, Dr. Nekoukar became acquainted with Sand Canyon through clients who live in the area.
“I love it here,” he said. “The fact that when you leave the house and go to work you go through a few minutes of horses and it’s green … it’s like living in the country.”
When he was a young boy in the Middle East, where many of Dr. Nekoukar’s relatives still reside, he would frequently bring home hurt birds or cats and interface with the local veterinarian. His interest was piqued at a young age, but he points to experiences he had later as most significantly affecting his future.
“I grew up in Israel and went into the military,” he said. “The men serve three years and females serve two years. It shaped me in many ways. … That’s when my life fell into place — you get structure, and you appreciate things.”
One of Dr. Nekoukar’s most notable habits today was forged by the strong arm of a superior officer. Whereas he used to be lax about time, now he is never late, thanks to harsh penalties for lack of punctuality in the military.
Dr. Nekoukar then went to veterinary school in Budapest, Hungary, earning his degree in 1999, after which he moved to Canada and then the United States. Able to speak English, Hebrew, Farsi and a little Hungarian, the widely traveled veterinarian took a job at an emergency clinic in Miami, where he met Lilie, who was a veterinary technician.
Prior to purchasing Sierra Veterinary Clinic in 2012, they lived in Tarzana and he worked in the San Fernando Valley, sometimes as a mobile vet, seeing clients in their homes. He almost exclusively treats dogs and cats, but has treated other animals when necessary, even a lemur one time.
This time of year, pets with snake bites come into the clinic once or twice a week. He treats the greatest number of bites from May through the summer, Dr. Nekoukar said.
“It’s mostly dogs. Snakes don’t attack animals,” he explained. “Dogs usually push their noses into them. … The best thing you can do is snake bite classes for dogs. One training is usually enough.”
The number one issue facing most of Dr. Nekoukar’s patients — as many as 70 percent — is skin disease, often from allergies, which can lead to ear infections.
“It’s probably the most discomforting problem dogs have,” said the veterinarian.
When your dog is suffering from these issues, Dr. Nekoukar has a home remedy that works to maximize your dog’s comfort level. Keep them occupied. Boredom adds to their distress, much like a child with chicken pox who doesn’t think about the itching while he’s at Disneyland, he said.
“Most allergies are food allergies,” he explained. “Generally we know it’s the protein that causes the allergy.”
Symptoms include chewing on their feet and ear shaking. And tackling the problem yourself involves making choices about dog food. “Focus on one protein,” Dr. Nekoukar said. “Try to find an alien protein, like rabbit or deer.”
Performing surgeries is the vet’s favorite part of the practice, but not the routine ones — the more unusual, the better.
When not in the clinic, Dr. Nekoukar enjoys practicing Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense technique. Eithan and Leah go to Hugo’s for gymnastics classes, plus the family uses their passes to Magic Mountain and Universal Studios for entertainment. And with their recent move, they will likely increase the time they spend enjoying life in the canyon.
“Now with everything in the backyard,” the new homeowner said, “the solar heating in the pool — it works great. It brings it to 90 degrees.”
After settling in this summer, the Nekoukar family will be gearing up for fall, when Eithan, who is 7, and Leah, 5, will enroll at Pinetree Community School in Canyon Country.
Meanwhile, Ron Nekoukar will do what he does best — making animals feel more comfortable at his veterinary clinic … and at home.
Sierra Veterinary Clinic: (661) 252-3333
17755 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country, CA 91351